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BARMM parliament urges Duterte to veto anti-terror bill

The Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) on Thursday approved a resolution urging President Rodrigo Duterte to veto the controversial anti-terror bill.

In resolution no. 239, the BTA appealed to the president to use his veto powers to "provide Congress the opportunity to review and address the issue of vagueness, overbreadth, and other concerns."

The resolution was passed after Bangsamoro Chief Minister Ahod “Al-Haj Murad” Ebrahim expressed alarm over the passage of the Anti-Terrorism Bill to the BTA.

According to Ebrahim, it was his "moral duty" to speak out "as the leader of a political entity born out of the struggle against injustice and oppression."

"[I]t is my moral duty to speak out to ensure the measures intended to address terrorism will not be used as a means to subvert the fundamental rights and freedom of individuals, in general, and normalize abuse and discrimination against the Bangsamoro, in particular,” Ebrahim said in a letter.

In his letter, Ebrahim took note of the context of the proposed measure which raised concerns for the Bangsamoro people due to its "vague" definition of terrorism, the surveillance of suspects, and interception and recording of communications, and detention without a judicial warrant of arrest.

The measure defines terrorism as an act committed by any who engage in activities intended to cause death or serious bodily injury to any person or endanger a person's life, and to cause extensive damage or destruction to a government or public facility, public place or private property.

Terrorism is also committed by those who engage in acts intended to cause extensive interference with, damage or destruction to critical infrastructure, and develops, manufactures, possesses, acquires, transports, supplies, or uses weapons, explosives or of biological, nuclear, radiological or chemical weapons.

“It is our fear that among the hardest hit once the Anti-Terrorism Bill passes into law would be the Bangsamoro," Ebrahim said.

"Once again, incidents of violations of human rights will be on the rise and the Bangsamoro people, easily labeled as terrorists would again be subject to discrimination and abuse,” he added.

Ebrahim said that the country can "do better."

"While we agree that a policy framework needs to be enacted to fights the menace of terrorism, we feel that the fundamental guarantees of liberty and the institutions of democracy must be protected," he said.

Several others have raised concerns that the bill, certified as urgent by Duterte, may be used to go after activists or dissenters once enacted into law.

The president will have until July 9 to decide whether to sign, veto, or let the bill lapse into law once Malacañang officials submit their recommendation. — BM, GMA News